NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has quit.
Mr Barilaro’s bombshell resignation follows Gladys Berejiklian’s shock decision to quit as the state’s premier on Friday.
An emotional Mr Barilaro, who holds the state seat of Monaro, said NSW would be best served by someone who had the passion and fight to forge on.
“I just don’t have the energy anymore,” he said on Monday.
Mr Barilaro has called a meeting of the NSW Nationals party room for Wednesday, where he will formally resign and the party will elect a new leader. He has also ruled out a tilt at a federal seat.
“I will be a keen watcher of politics but not a participant. I make this clear now, so I don’t have to answer the question later: I have no intention and no will that I will be running for Eden-Monaro or for federal politics,” he said.
“I’m looking to a new career. I turn 50 in November – maybe a bit of a midlife crisis, but definitely thinking about what happens next. I will take some time out, but I genuinely won’t be running for federal politics.”
He said quitting politics had been on his mind for some time, and Ms Berejiklian’s resignation had played no part in his decision.
“There is never a right or wrong time to leave politics, but I genuinely believe that now that the Premier is leaving and Andrew Constance has indicated his intent to leave, I genuinely think it is the right and proper thing to be honest with people and not put my hand up,” he said.
Mr Constance, the NSW Transport Minister, announced on Sunday he intended to run for the federal seat of Gilmore at the upcoming election.
He will resign from state politics by year’s end to seek Liberal preselection for his local seat of Gilmore, on NSW’s south coast.
With Mr Barilaro’s resignation on Monday, that means three byelections loom in NSW – his seat of Monaro, Mr Constance’s seat of Bega and Ms Berejiklian’s Willoughby electorate.
Mr Barilaro’s shock announcement also came as the race to replace Ms Berejiklian as premier heats up.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet appears poised to take the top job after striking a deal to make Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres his deputy.
After behind-the-scenes factional wrangling for much of the weekend, Mr Perrottet announced on Sunday he would seek to become the next premier.
The ABC reports the father of six has the numbers to win a Liberal leadership ballot scheduled for Tuesday.
However, Planning Minister Rob Stokes has told the ABC he still intends to run.
Mr Perrottet, Epping MP, entered NSW parliament in 2011 – then as Castle Hill MP – and served as finance minister before becoming treasurer.
He’s a member of the Liberal Party’s right faction while Mr Ayres is from the dominant moderate faction. Mr Perrottet also has the public support of former prime minister John Howard.
On Monday, he said he would have preferred Mr Barilaro to remain as Nationals leader.
“You are here to serve the public in this job, you are not here for yourself. And he certainly realised that, given the change in the government right now, if he didn’t make the decision he might need to make it down the track,” Mr Perrottet said.
“I think what we need right now for the people of our state, which he appreciates, is stability. Obviously I would have preferred him to stay on, but he is closer to his own situation than I am and he has made that decision.”
Ms Berejiklian announced her resignation on Friday after the state’s corruption watchdog disclosed the 51-year-old was under investigation for potential breaches of public trust.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian “exercised public functions” in a position of conflict given her secret five-year relationship with ex-MP Daryl Maguire.
Nationals MPs Melinda Pavey, Paul Toole, Adam Marshall are believed to be the main contenders to replace Mr Barilaro as deputy premier.